'Clean Eating's Dirty Secret' Documentary: Our Response

So many of you will be aware of the recent criticisms publicised across the BBC in the form of the documentary entitled ‘Clean Eating’s Dirty Secret’, presented by vlogger Grace Victory, investigating the ‘clean eating’ industry. Obviously this is something that we feel passionately about we felt it necessary to respond to this documentary and other recent criticisms of the industry.

Although this documentary brought many important questions to light, such as the accountability and credibility of health bloggers, and the legitimacy of certain diets, we feel this documentary was not an investigation of the ‘clean eating’ industry. The tone of the documentary was clear from the outset, and the ‘clean eating’ industry as a whole was clearly depicted as ‘dirty’. Therefore, ironically for a documentary whose ‘take-home’ message is balance and ‘everything in moderation’, the investigation itself lacked any kind of balance.

The documentary also cast a single net around all health and fitness bloggers, labelling them as ‘middle-class’. The information used to back-up this claim was the price of some health food products in Planet Organic. We feel that the relevance of imposing a social ‘class’ framework on this recent lifestyle movement is irrelevant. Reducing the diverse and innumerable number of lifestyles within this industry to simply ‘middle-class’ is at best close-minded and at worst just insulting. Following a healthy and active lifestyle, which many of these bloggers advocate and support does not directly necessitate that you are a member of a certain social class. Equally, being healthy does not mean you have to shop at ‘Wholefoods’ or equivalent. Following a healthy lifestyle can be affordable, and this aspect of the industry was completely left out of the documentary.

The documentary labelled following certain lifestyles and diets such as ‘plant-based living’ and ‘raw diets’ as ‘extreme’. It then went onto feature health and fitness bloggers such as Hazel Wallace (The Food Medic) and Zanna Van Dijk, but completely failed to acknowledged the very balanced lifestyles that these two health bloggers promote. This would have been a prime opportunity to demonstrate two successful health bloggers who do in fact advocate balanced diets and lifestyles, but the documentary entirely failed to do so.

Lastly, we believe there needs to be a certain amount of accountability on both sides here; yes health and fitness bloggers have a responsibility as influencers to tread carefully in what they promote and advocate but we are all our own person and we have an accountability to ourselves to seek out credible sources and knowledge, evaluate and decide what we think is appropriate for our own health and bodies.

We have tried to keep this review of the documentary as impartial as possible, distancing it somewhat from Gains4Girls, but essentially as health, food and lifestyle bloggers, we do not advocate any of the extremes featured in this documentary. We advocate a balanced and well-rounded lifestyle. We do not cut out any food groups nor advocate any ‘fad’ diets. We try to eat healthily – putting nutritionally dense foods into our bodies –, exercise to keep fit and strong and implore women to be body-confident. We eat carbs, fats, proteins, dominos… You name it, we probably eat it.

So what we are trying to say is that being influenced by health bloggers on social media does not directly denote extremism or restriction, as this documentary and many other critics suggest. We implore everybody who follows us and other health and fitness bloggers to not take every piece of advice as truth and at face-value. Listen to your body, do your research and most importantly keep a balanced lifestyle!

Lots of love, AC and LP xxx